Review by Sean Boelman
Starring and directed by Jon Abrahams (Scary Movie), Clover is a new action-comedy paying homage to classic mobster movies. However, apart from an interesting and unexpected third act twist, the film never manages to find its footing because it feels constantly unsure of what it wants to be.
The movie follows two brothers who are sent on the lam with a teenage girl when she kills the son of a powerful mob boss and they are blamed for his death. For a majority of the film, it’s very predictable and leans heavily on tropes of the genre. However, writer Michael Testone redeems himself with a third act that, while not entirely fitting within the rest of the movie, is much more entertaining than anything that came before.
Perhaps the biggest issue with the film is that its tone is wildly inconsistent. At times, it’s obvious that the movie is a comedy as the two leads are cracking jokes with each other and the film is a lot more playful. Yet there are other parts of the movie that are overly dark and serious, some to the point of being disturbing. It would have been beneficial for the film to pick one tone and stick to it.
The pacing of the movie is also aggravating. It takes quite a while for all of the gears to get turning, and while everything eventually comes together in the end, the process of getting there isn’t entirely satisfying. There are simply too many moving parts in this story, and not enough time to build a world around them, and as such, the film falters.
That said, the movie does a very good job of making the audience sympathize with the characters. Granted, there are a lot of archetypes in play, but it is almost fitting given that the film functions more as a parody of crime movies than anything else. Still, Testone writes them in a way that is charming and endearing.
But alas, the actors in the film don’t do a good job of working with the solid foundation they are given. Abrahams and his co-star Mark Webber have solid enough chemistry, and this is a majority of what makes the movie move forward. Everyone else in the cast has wooden delivery. Young actress Nicole Elizabeth Berger’s performance is particularly rough, although that may be due to the fault of poor direction.
Abraham also had mixed results with the film on a technical level. Much like the movie couldn’t decide what tone it wanted to follow, it couldn’t decide what era in which it wanted to take place. Anachronisms between the material and production design can be found galore. Additionally, the film relies a bit too heavily on mediocre gore effects.
Clover is saved from being a waste of time by its solid ending. Even though this obviously seems like a passion project for Abrahams, it didn’t pan out, as there are more misses than hits in the script and execution.
Clover hits VOD on April 3.